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That was fast

Rupert Murdoch's purchase of Dow Jones and the jewel in its crown, the Wall Street Journal, isn't even a week old. And yet, is it me, or is Rupert already bringing a little bit of tabloid magic to Liberty Street? There's a memo to Lindsay Lohan about her drinking in today's WSJ op-ed section. Money quote:

Ms. Lohan needs to grow up, realize her talents and find ways to fill her time that aren't self-destructive. Coming to see herself as an adult, accepting responsibility, and developing pride in her skills are difficult but time-tested therapeutic techniques.

Be sure to check out the WSJ op-eds tomorrow for sage mothering advice for Britney and couples therapy for Brangelina.

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What the Basra precedent says about Iraq

ESSAM AL-SUDANI/AFP/Getty Images

Just about everybody active in the Iraq debate will find something in this morning's Washington Post piece on Basra to hang their hat on.

Against the surge? The article describes how Britain's own mini-surge around Basra in 2006 temporarily reduced the violence but soon fell flat.

For the surge? You can point to the fact that violence has grown even worse since British troops gave up trying to keep the peace.

The article also provides ammunition to all sides of the debate on Iran's role. It depicts an Iran that is actively meddling in Basra but is also utterly unable to control events in the surrounding area:

Although neighbor Iran's presence is pervasive -- with cultural influence, humanitarian aid, arms and money -- U.S. officials and outside experts think that the Iraqi parties are using Iran more than vice versa. Iraqis in the south have long memories of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, one U.S. official said, and when a southern Shiite "wants to tar someone, they call them an Iranian." He said the United States is "always very concerned about Iranian influence, as well we should be, but there is a difference between influence and control. It would be very difficult for the Iranians to establish control."

In short, the complicated and shifting picture the article paints is decidedly resistant to simple policy prescription—which makes the piece all the more credible.